Debra Broz and Adde Russell: 6.07 Works
At Salvage Vanguard Theater Gallery, artists Debra Broz and Adde Russell both try to say something important, but it's difficult to make out what
Reviewed by Salvador Castillo, Fri., July 27, 2007
'Debra Broz and Adde Russell: 6.07 Works' Salvage Vanguard Theater Gallery, through Aug. 18
The newly opened Salvage Vanguard Theater includes an aptly named SVT Gallery. Thumbs up to the cross-pollination of the arts.
Entering the gallery, Adde Russell's oil painting they ran like a Jackal welcomes you. A diptych, as most of Russell's paintings are, the left panel features a feathered headdress on a shiny black background. Covering part of the headdress is a coiling swirl of white paint placed on the left side and cut off by the edge of the canvas. The right panel symmetrically depicts a jackal with a black mark under its right eye, while the back half is covered by more coiling swirls of paint on the right side. The coil reveals itself as an extension cord, and if the panels were switched, the two halves would form a whole image.
Russell's other works follow the same formula. Glossy black background with a pair of finely rendered images. Sometimes they are sharply cut, as if culled from a magazine. Both the cow from they have cows in Japan and the greyhound from race track disco exemplify this. Then a white silhouette obstructs or engages the positive-spaced elements. The breaks of the panels in the diptych and in the sole triptych in the gallery abruptly interrupt the images and sometimes will line up if the placement is switched.
The interruptions in Debra Broz's work are not as disruptive. Perhaps because Broz sutures the wounds, you safely move around the gaping holes in the paper. For the most part, she also follows a formula. A large sheet of white paper is pierced. Thread is sewn on or around the lesion. Occasionally, Xeroxed images of hands appear in the composition. But there is always a tiny strip of typewritten text included. Of course, her four biological anomalies and her sculptural work do not adhere to those rules.
Moving counterclockwise in the space, a minute passes presents itself as the final work. A sheet of paper, about notebook size, contains a small strip of paper with the phrase "a minute passes" on the left side and white thread sewn in a star formation in the upper right quadrant. The thread appears to accidentally unravel. Expecting tight lines like the other works ruins the quiet poetics of the piece.
Both artists present work visually broken and incomplete. Like dreams, the cuts and holes add a nonlinear sequence of events, and only the focused imagery makes sense. It feels too open and relies too much on the viewer to fill in the blanks. There is also a theatrical comparison between the contrasting works. Russell's dark paintings are tight, sharp, and the transitions are choppy, while Broz's works on paper are minimal, quiet, and allow free association. They both attempt to say something important, but it's difficult to make out what.